Chapter 7:

You don't need to cut yourself off entirely

Castaway Isle

When she did make it home a little after 6pm, her guts were killing her. Meanwhile, her brother was staring in absolute horror at all her purchases of the day.

Sophie would like to say she's a tough woman. She's had to be, she was a survivor and only grew stronger from it. But right now she just was a petite and tender 21 year old college student that had some pretty bad cramps.

Since she did pay him earlier, Matthew got to work immediately carrying in all the 'groceries' and travel supplies while Sophie collapsed on the couch.

20 minutes. She allowed herself 20 minutes of rest after swallowing down her prescribed painkillers.

Time was ticking but she could do this. She had to.

Luckily she had an extra pair of helping hands, even if those hands were absolutely confused on what she was trying to do. At this moment Matthew truly thought his sister had gone insane to buy so much crap.

"Surprise, we're going camping too. Just.... help me pull out the luggage and Tetris this all in." Sophie mumbled from the couch, waiting for the pain relievers to kick in.

The extra-large luggage meant for check-in was already out in the living room. All Matthew had to do was open up packages, throw away the carboards and somehow make the supplies and camping gear fit.

Luckily all of the camping gear was brand new and rolled up perfectly tight and compact. Soft items cushioned more delicate electronics while the empty space was filled with seemingly random food and accessories.

Matthew screamed however when he saw the sheer amount of knives Sophie bought but she lazily waved him off and told him the multi-tool was a gift for him.

"That still doesn't explain all the damn knives!"

"End of the world Mattie."

"Is this even legal?"

"Yes yes Mattie, I checked. Everything is perfectly legal and we can check it in on the plane as long as we do it right. Not the lighter though, somehow you have to keep lighters with you. Funny right?"

While he was a little excited for the present he was more concerned why in the world his sister thought it was necessary to buy a machete? Multiples of them even. Then pack them into the luggage?

She really has gone insane.

"Just play along with me for today Mattie. I swear I'll go back to normal and forget all about the dream when nothing happens to our flight. Just this much....please."

A deal is a deal.

"...Fine, but we're keeping all the receipts. We're absolutely keeping the cooking gear since you decided to splurge but no one needs this many outdoor knives?!"

"Survivialst do."

"Normal people don't! What the hell Sophie is this going to be a new phase? Well as long as you don't try going vegan again."

"Haha very funny."

A phase huh, it's going to be a very long one.

When the pain in her uterus and guts became bearable again, Sophie sat up and started to help her poor confused brother with the packing.

They took a very necessary chicken dinner while the food was still warm and was finished putting everything together by 9 pm. Initially, Mattie was concerned there just was not enough time to organize everything his sister had bought. However, she was more efficient tonight than he had ever seen her.

While he was still concerned about her odd state, she seemed to be in control? He could play along for a bit more, after all she had promised to stop after the next day if nothing occurred.

For the rest of the evening, until it was time for their ride to take them to the airport, Sophie checked over her brother's carry on and hers.

After approving of his new backpack and carry on luggage she moved on to stuff her sister's left behind personal items. Then any last-minute substantial gear or medicines inside the house. Anything useful, even if it may not look like it at first.

She also informed her brother to download everything he may want into his electronic devices as well as their dad's old tablet.

"Charge it for me, I'll download the stuff I want in dad's. Just fill it up with your favorite movies or whatever. Use up everything. You can delete it afterward if you want. "

"Uh well okay, sure I got some music I wanted to update anyways."

"If you have room, download survivalist guides, and stuff. End of the world Mattie, play it like it's going to be the end of the world.."

"What you're saying is you want me to watch every season of 'Lost?'"

"If you want sure, go watch some, I'm sure there's better shit to download though."

"No thanks, hey there's an 8 minute version of the whole show."

"You do you bro, just download something useful instead of that crap."

"Oh my god this show is awful." he laughed.

While it would be more economical to download only useful things, they had limited time and search and select. Besides, having something that would remind them of home and entertaining distractions was important to keep their sanity later on.

Even if it was the same things on repeat, the few books and personal photographs that had survived the crash had kept tensions down. At least for awhile.

While the power in the generator still worked, people had their phones and music to distract them from the empty space between the harsh work of survival during the day. Movies, funny ones especially, and little things like that had more an effect than people realize.

For Sophie, sanity was kept in the pens and pages of her travel journal- till it ran out of space that was.

Now she would come prepared. Both for her and her siblings.

The rest of the space on the devices she would save for practical guides and videos. Youtube had videos on anything, even in 2017.

She left herself and packing her own bags for last. Not because she was already prepared but because in her mind she mattered the least. She's already lived through hell once, she could do it again.

It's her siblings that didn't make it in another life. Everything Sophie does now has to be for them.

But you can't help others if you don't help yourself first.

Packing was a daze, as Sophie was lost in thought the entire time. Sure she was conscious as she selected appropriate versatile clothing items. She even raided her mom's untouched closet for more durable good things. But the folding, rolling, air compression and zipping were all done on autopilot, fueled by adrenaline, caffeine, and desperation.

When the last zipper was zipped and all the air squeezed out to close the luggage, Sophie practically collapses on her mother's old vanity chair.

The busy day had Sophie working up a sweat. So she lied earlier, she shrugged to herself and dragged her tiered body for another hot shower. She should enjoy the luxury of unlimited hot water while she still could.

After she was scrubbed, pink and raw, but much more relaxed, she couldn't help but stop and stare. At the soft little girl in a vanity mirror.

It was still hard to believe.

She looked so young but she felt so damn tired, so old. It was disorienting.

God, how far did she even age? Time was still blurry to her, a concept terrifyingly confusing to make any sense of again after the rescue. It was so bad that Sophie could only resort to keeping track by counting the years during and after the island. 8 Years on the island. 5 Years after, 13 wretched years.

She was 33 years old then. Funny, last she recalled the woman looking back in the mirror looked a hell lot older. Stress, insanity and the elements were not kind to her. When help had finally found her all those years ago, rescuers thought she was an old woman. Her hair has gone completely white.

She sure felt a hell lot older than any of her ages, now and then.

Vanity was worth nothing to her now. Her own personal beauty even disgusted her and some points. When she was younger, Sophie would complain to her mother for not giving her as nice genes as her baby sister.

Her mother would scoff, knowing her jokes too well, and say she was plenty enough.

That's true. Sad but true. As a young woman, Sophie was plenty attractive enough.

She was scared, terrified even of being anything close to desirable again. Of being made a victim. If it was to save her family she would suffer it all again in a heartbeat but deep down she was marked and damaged by her trauma. Right now her body was so young, so clean. But in her mind and soul, she was bitter to the point of death.

The scars on her body had disappeared but the ones in her mind had never healed.

In a split rash decision, she opened her mother's drawers and found the salon-grade scissors and razors. Her mother was frugal and would cut the family's hair to save costs. It was the little things.

Over the bathroom trash, Sophie snips and snips. Chunks of hair falling messily over the floors. What landed half on the floor and into the trash was long, healthy and black, not shocked white like an old woman's.

It was so pretty once.

She's no professional but she's trimmed her own hair plenty of times with much duller blades. She cut everything as evenly as she could. Up to her ears, cropped short, before she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.

With the razor, she cleaned up the sides and stared at her reflection.

How young and tender she still looked, even with all her lovely smooth hair chopped off. All that was left was something that could be considered a layered pixie cut, though she kept some of her side bangs.

If it was the old her, the true 21 year old, she may have cried.

It was not an unflattering style but short hair could not hide her round baby face cheeks. It made her look even younger, boyish. She was once so petty about not being as tall and fashionable looking as June. Like many girls, so casually focused on her looks.

How funny, the things that once seemed so important to her were absolutely insignificant, maybe even a burden.

But she felt better. This cut suited her current self more, sharp and practical. It was actually very cool and Sophie could help but grin into the mirror.

Sophie cleaned the scissors and razor properly before putting them back in their case. She had opened up the drawer to return them when she thought otherwise and slipped them into her pocket, to put in the luggage. It could fit a little something more and stainless steel was impossible to get on the island.

In the still-open drawer, an ornate box stared back at her.

Vanity meant nothing to her now.

But if it was her mother's? If it was a keepsake, something of hers, well that's a different story. She's not surprised by the faint layer of dust over the lacquer box. She is surprised at how her mother's jewels can still shine once exposed to the light.

There are quite a few valuable pieces. She's sure that anything here would look lovely on both her and June. But something like jewelry is near worthless in that place, only a bunch of pretty rocks.

Sure maybe someone might want to trade if it was before the later years. But essentially, it was worthless. Jewelry couldn't keep you fed, it did nothing to help you survive.

She picks out a small pair of diamond studs, little earrings encrusted with a swirling circle of platinum. These simple earrings didn't sparkle anywhere near as much as the others but were just as valuable.

These, she'll take these of her mother.

She already packed her father's tablet, not as sentimental exactly but it was his. Maybe she'll also raid his closet for things Mattie had left behind?

In the back of the near untouched closet was a vintage bomber jacket she remembered her father never wore but kept pristine. He said it was from his youth and she had seen photos of him in it, from a time not unlike hell itself. It was still too large for her but had seen her father safe through a war, perhaps it would do the same for her.

With these two last items, Sophie thinks she's ready. Not really but as ready as she'll ever be. She takes one last whiff of her mother's perfume still lingering around the vanity and turns off the lights.

No time to cry, she has a flight to catch.

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